Why Black-on-White Crime Statistics are Not an Appropriate Response

A friend (real friend, someone I actually know) posted this on facebook last week:

Dear Racist FB Friends: I know that black people kill white people, just like white people kill black people. It’s OLD NEWS. Old, ancient, boring, sickening news. Can we please focus on loving one another instead of spreading hate and discontent and fomenting racism? Every time I see one of you post *yet another* status about black-on-white crimes, I feel a little sicker and even more disheartened about our world. Move on.

At the time she wrote this, I hadn’t seen many posts or comments about the black-on-white vs white-on-black crime ratio, but since then it’s become ubiquitous.

I image there are people who don’t understand why black-on-white crime statistics aren’t relevant to the outrage over the delay to arrest George Zimmerman. The following is an attempt to explain it.

I am White. There exist violent thugs who are White. Those thugs do not represent me. They are not my agents. I get nothing from their crimes. When a White murderer kills innocent Black people, the White race does not get a point. And I am not personally responsible for George Zimmerman’s actions.

The same would be true if I were Black, in reference to Black criminals. Black criminals don’t act on behalf of law abiding Black people. The Black race gets no points for crimes against Whites. There have been Black people committing violent acts against White people in retaliation for Trayvon Martin, but most Black people have nothing to do with them, and are not responsible for their actions.

The outrage over Mr. Zimmerman is not about the actions of criminals. It’s not even about George Zimmerman. The outrage is about the apparent approval of Trayvon Martin’s death by the lawmakers and enforcers who are supposed to keep us safe. It’s about the feeling of some law abiding citizens that race and demographics, rather than deeds, determine who gets punished for crimes and who gets to go free.

Gun ownership is much higher among White people than Black people, so stand-your-ground laws do not provide equal protection. While laws and attitudes which encourage vigilantism might increase the amount of people who kill criminals, they also increase the amount of people who mistakenly kill innocents who they assume to be threats. People who fear falling into the “assumed threat” category don’t see this as a fair trade-off.

Some White commenter’s have asked, since so many Black people kill so many White people, why isn’t it White people who are protesting against Blacks? But White people have protested, and the result has been laws and attitudes which enabled George Zimmerman to track down Trayvon Martin and start a confrontation with him while armed and ready to kill.

One particularly mean spirited writer suggested that Blacks and Whites should call it even, considering the balance of racial oppression against the violence of Black criminals. But again I emphasize, criminals are not agents of law abiding citizens, and should not be treated as their representatives.

Instead of Blacks protesting Whites and Whites protesting Blacks, law abiding citizens should protest criminals. And instead of laws which promote confrontations, we should have laws that reduce crime. These laws include youth programs, police outreach and increased patrols (by which I mean more cops, not more overworked cops), better education, safe public transportation, and perhaps even increased gun ownership.

The protests aren’t about equaling the balance of cross-race crimes or the desire to protect Black criminals as equally as White criminals. The protests are about equal protection of the law and and a desire to protect law abiding citizens.